2022 Maine Food Waste Solutions Summit to be held April 15

The 2022 Maine Food Waste Solutions Summit will be held virtually on Friday, April 15, from 9 a.m.–noon. This year’s theme is “Improving Maine’s Food System.”

Food waste data is grim. The Natural Resources Defense Council estimates that 40% of food produced is never eaten, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture finds that this waste costs the average U.S. household over $1,800 per year. Food is now the single largest component of Maine’s solid waste stream at approximately 30% based on a 2011 Maine Waste Characterization Study. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, Mainers pay to haul 97% of food waste to landfills, where it releases contaminants and produces methane gas that threatens water and climate. Food waste also squanders valuable resources like water, energy, labor and soil, which are used to produce food that is never eaten. 

But there are solutions today. The Maine Food Waste Solutions Summit is Maine’s major food waste event that brings together the state’s food system participants — consumers, farms, food businesses, feeding partners, community leaders and policy makers — to educate and take action to end food waste. 

“For this year’s summit, we really want to include everyone who cares about access to good, nutritious food in Maine,” says Susanne Lee, faculty fellow at the Senator George J. Mitchell Center for Sustainability Solutions at the University of Maine. “There are so many simple food waste solutions that everyone can do now, with important economic, social and environmental benefits for all.”

This year’s keynote speakers include Angel Veza, senior manager of Capital Innovation & Engagement for ReFED (Rethink Food Waste through Economics & Data), a U.S. nonprofit leader in identifying data-driven solutions to end food waste; and Congresswoman Chellie Pingree, Maine First District Representative and leading supporter of bi-partisan legislation to end food waste. 

Interactive sessions including Mitchell Center student interns will encourage attendees to learn more about how they can get involved in these food waste solutions. Presenting interns include William Dunham, Ryan Fitzmaurice, Ellie Hunt, Kalina Kinyon and Hannah Mathieu of UMaine, Hannah Crayton of Thomas College, and Ariana Walker of the University of New England.

“We’re really excited to present the work that we have been doing and help people see how they can benefit from reducing food waste,” says Crayton.

Summit sessions include:

  • Why Stop Food Waste? — Q&A discussion with food waste experts including Ivan Fernandez, UMaine climate and soils scientist; Travis Blackmer, UMaine economist; Ryan Parker, director of Food Corps in Maine. Moderated by David Cash, Regional Administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency Region 1
  • “Maine Success Stories” — Panel featuring model food waste reduction efforts, with Commissioner Randy Liberty, Maine Department of Corrections; Nick Jackson, Jackson Regenerational Farm; Dixie Shaw, Aroostook County Catholic Charities; and Troy Moon, Portland Sustainability director. Moderated by Pips Veazey, director of the Portland Gateway, and Ashley Forbes, communications manager for the Foster Center for Innovation
  • Maine Food Waste Pilots — Mitchell Center student interns presenting food waste pilots developed to test and measure food waste solutions and benefits 
  • Food Waste Solution Workshops — Breakout groups focused on how to get started, including food tracking systems, school education, food donation and food recycling

This second annual summit is hosted by the Mitchell Center and the Portland Gateway. The event is free and open to the public. Register online by April 11.

For more information or to request a reasonable accommodation, contact Susanne Lee at susanne.lee@maine.edu.